How Many Bays per Tech Does Your Shop Need?
By Ted Ings, Executive Director
Make the most of your real estate: decide how many bays your shop needs
The number of service bays in the United States has steadily been on the decline. In 2011, a study by Digital Dealer found there were 50,000 fewer stalls nationwide than ten years prior. Presumably, a lack of qualified technicians has contributed, at least in part, to the reduction.
Should your location be one of those cutting back on service stalls? Or do you have enough business and competent employees to maintain, or even increase, your number of bays? We’ll help you decide.
How to determine the correct number of bays per tech
Choosing the right number of bays per tech can be difficult. These are some of the factors to consider when making your decision.
Ask yourself: what are your bays truly used for?
Most dealerships allot more than one bay per technician. The idea is that the extra bay, or bays, will serve as a place for overflow work. For example, if the tech is waiting for rotors to turn on one car, he or she can be changing the oil on another.
The theory is sound, but when extra bays become parking spots, there’s a problem. All too often, “in progress” vehicles get hung up on a hoist for days – or even weeks –costing the shop both floor space and money.
It’s important to assess what your bays are truly used for; are cars getting fixed, or do many spaces serve as expensive vehicle storage? If work is consistently languishing in your stalls, it may be time to adjust both your staffing and property resources.
Track technician efficiency and productivity
There are two primary metrics to track: technician efficiency and technician productivity. Efficiency measures how quickly a tech gets a job done, whereas productivity quantifies how many hours a day the tech actually spends working on cars (versus waiting on parts, etc).
Efficiency is a good indicator of whether your team is productive enough to use their allotted bays. Meanwhile, productivity can often be used to gauge external factors (e.g., not enough customers or advisors not selling).
Crunch the numbers; if efficiency is high, but productivity is low, techs may be hanging around because there aren’t enough hoists. On the other hand, if efficiency is low, workers may be wasting their given stalls.
Know your schedule
Without a schedule, it’s nearly impossible to determine the correct number of bays per tech. Do you plan to service 20 cars per day; 50 cars per day – or 100? Create an agenda that corresponds to the abilities of your team members. That way you’ll have a better understanding of what talent to have on the floor, and what real estate to keep open.
Take dedicated service bays into consideration
Most shops have communal bays designed specifically for alignments, oil changes, etc. These designated stalls improve workflow and are worth considering when calculating an ideal number of bays. Although these areas are not assigned on a “per technician basis”, floor space must be set aside for them.
Think outside the box
Does each of your techs really need their own service bay? Maybe not. In some cases, entry-level workers are more efficient when they tag team a vehicle. Doubling up on techs-per-bay may not always work, but it’s something to consider.
Determine how much each bay is being used
There’s a straightforward way to determine how much each bay is being used. Simply divide the billable hours produced in that space by the total number of hours in the workday. For example, if a bay turns out 32 customer pay hours during a 40 hours work week, the space is utilized 80% of the time.
Is there a golden number?
Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to allocating bays per tech. Some experts say, however, as a general rule of thumb, the goal should be 1.5 stalls per employee (if the technician is productive).
But there’s one thing to always keep in mind: efficiency and productivity depend primarily on people. If your techs aren’t fixing cars and your advisors aren’t selling, it doesn’t matter how many stalls you have. Working closely with your team will help answer many questions, including the ever-popular “how many bays per tech” inquiry.